Over the rainbow explores the experimentation with black and white aesthetic in avant-garde art and its subsequent consolidation in contemporary visual language.
Modernity was a pioneer in creating pictorial compositions in black and white. Until then the presence of black and white in the plastic arts was limited to the restrictions of materials and supports derived from the technique of drawing or engraving. Preparatory drawings, sketches, or student’s notebooks, were filled with black and white compositions, but rarely the finished work, which always implied the representation of reality and therefore the use of color.
The advent of photography, first, and the cinematography, later in the late nineteenth century, ended up conquering the imaginary of an era. Scenes of daily life, the arrival of a train (The arrival of a train to the station of La Ciotat, Louis Lumière 1895), the departure of workers from the factory (The departure of the Lumière factory in Lyon, Louis Lumière 1895), others imagined as a delirious trip to the Moon (Journey to the Moon, Georges Méliès 1902), showed the immediate or imagined reality from a new perspective lacking color, a black and white view of the world that by its very nature it constituted a new aesthetic. White and black reached a fundamental role in the formal and expressive language of the work of art in modern culture. No longer as an inevitable manifestation of the materials and the technique used, but as an aesthetic purpose conscious of being a proper language.
Wassily Kandinsky, pioneer of abstract art and founder of the famous Munich group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider 1911 - 1914), was also one of the first painters to make his works negative. Encouraged by the idea that, like music, the visual arts could also be a vehicle for the transmission of emotions and spirituality through the use of pure plastic elements (color, form and line), Kandinsky created a pictorial language with its own, that didn’t depend on the representation of objects and elements of the surrounding reality.
These ideas that in the first part of his career served as a ferment for the emergence of abstract art, were published in 1911 in the founding text Concerning the Spiritual in Art, in which Kandinsky, far from appealing to reason and intellect, expresses in a language full of analogies that seeks to solve the difficulties of written expression through sensory and linguistic associations.
Throughout his artistic career Kandinsky's work evolved from the fluid and organic trace, to the geometrical in his years as a professor in the Bauhaus to finally return to nature form compositions that mix a complex system of pictographic symbols. The artwork included in the exhibition Over the Rainbow, made in 1934, is representative of this last stage, and at the same time unique in the work of Kandinsky whose language is distinguished by the use of color.
In Black Book (1989), Christopher Wool makes typography an image composing linguistic landscapes through the combination of words. This artist's book of seventeen impressions is both a study and a sociological sentence, since Wool reduces consecutive words such as Assassin or Hypocrite to a category, in a subversive act of authoritarian determination. Verbal fractures produce ingenious and sometimes suggestive juxtapositions, challenging the implications of language while tempting the viewer to ignore the meaning in favor of graphic concerns. These images were originally inspired by New York graffiti, gaining political gravity through the employment of a military source in the context of the Vietnam War.
Bruce Nauman began the series Fingers and Holes in 1985 as a challenge to draw his right hand with his left and his left hand with his right. In doing so, Nauman translated his anatomical sketches into the language of algebraic topology, which he had studied at the university. In this mathematical field, a cup of coffee and a donut are equivalent: each has an uninterrupted surface that surrounds a single "hole".
That same year, Nauman visited Gemini G.E.L. And he started working on images of clowns shaking hands. He created lithographic plates, but did not complete the work on the project. A decade later, Nauman returned to Gemini in 1994 and, facing the challenge of ambidextrous drawing, perceived a similar relationship between the gesture of "three fingers, a hole" and the previous image of clowns who shook hands. He returned to the plates he had started in 1985 and incorporated them into the series Fingers and Holes, creating dazzling impressions of color transition to white and white and vice versa.
In Specimen (1994) Ross Bleckner circular organic shapes made with layers of wax on the surface of a black canvas, multicolored volumetric circles or "cells", look like molecules that are observed under a microscope. Emerging as a prominent artist in New York During the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, Bleckner's paintings, such as memento mori, often suggest meditations on the body, health, and the human condition.
Secundino Hernández (Madrid 1975) works in a field of quotations and references to the history of painting, creating compositions that look like visual poems. As when we look at a cloud, Secundino's painting reveals itself in the insight of the gaze. Strokes of color serve as a language to insert suggestions embedded in a visual fabric that shows and at the same time hides the clues of the case proposed. Known especially for his treatment of color, the exhibition shows his work composed of black and white in dialogue with the body of historical references that nourish his work.
The materialistic informalism in Antoni Tapies' painting includes recycled materials, ropes, papers, sand, straw or marble dust where the resulting color palette is always telluric: an infinity of ochers, sometimes red and yellow, but always black and white, they create informal compositions that are almost bas-reliefs. In Brown Bed (1977), this object of everyday life is presented with the use of a large black spot that divides the composition into two planes of color to which it adds recycled papers and textures.
The exhibition Over the rainbow proposes a dialogue between works that deliberately respond and incorporate the aesthetics of black and white in a meaningful way within the whole work of its author. The selection of works investigates punctually the treatment of monochrome aesthetics through different moments of the 20th century. The sample is included within the set of historical review exhibitions proposed by the Mirat gallery program.